All businesses nowadays rely on digital data plus an effective IT system to run their daily operations. But what will you do if your IT system fails, for any number of potential reasons and valuable data is lost or compromised?
That’s why it’s absolutely essential for businesses to have a good disaster recovery plan in place. However, recent research shows that many businesses (especially small to mid-sized ones) don’t have a disaster recovery plan at all. Just think about it: if your business runs on data, your company will be out of business instantly if your data is lost.
Here are our top tips to set up effective disaster recovery for your company:
Set up a detailed disaster recovery plan:
creating a recovery plan is very challenging, as there are many different scenarios that must be considered and planned for. That’s why it’s best to start with the basics – the most important functions necessary to keep your business running.
Basic functions include communication systems (especially email), server functions, your local network, etc. You should have a recovery plan for all of these in case of disaster.
Also set schedules, or recovery time frames, for specific functions. Again, choose the most basic and important ones, and give them the shortest recovery schedule.
Define clear staff roles and responsibilities:
in case of disaster, decide who is responsible for implementing which parts of your recovery plan. This is critical since the greatest recovery plan is useless if there’s no one to implement it in a timely fashion.
Also, assign clear communication relationships between all staff members involved, and brief them how to coordinate with each other in case of disaster.
Test your recovery plan:
it’s possible to simulate many of the scenarios for which you need a recovery plan.
Recent research shows that many businesses never test their recovery plan, which is almost as bad as not having a plan. If you don’t test your plan, you’ll give your staff members the false feeling that you have a valid recovery strategy, while actually, you don’t. That means, they will have to improvise a solution if disaster were to strike for real.
Perform both announced and unannounced tests. When you test your plan or specific parts of it, it’s highly likely you’ll discover weaknesses in the recovery strategy, which you’ll need to fix.
The more often you test your recovery plan, the better it will become, and the more your staff members will be able to implement recovery protocol almost as if it were routine.
Test different methods of data backup and restoration:
since there are many different ways to back up data, it’s important to test several, until you find one that works reliable when tested under realistic conditions.
Once you have found a reliable backup method, keep on testing to find second and third one as a fail-safe mechanism, and make sure that all of these can perform data restoration satisfactorily in case of disaster.
Include redundancies in your recovery plan:
if major disasters, such as earthquakes and floods, were to hit your company, it’s likely that many of your recovery options will be wiped out along with the data they are supposed to restore.
For example, any on-site data backups are likely to be just as severely impacted as the actual data in such a scenario. That’s why it’s important to install effective off-site backups for cases like that.
Once again, you’ll have to test your off-site data backups rigorously under stringent conditions, to make sure they can actually guarantee effective data restoration in the worst-case scenario.
You’ll also need to make sure that effective security is in place for your off-site data storage, including security during data transfer.
Back up laptops, and install theft security:
since many staff members nowadays are allowed to take their company laptop home and perform parts of their tasks remotely, you need to be prepared for theft scenarios, or for laptops being lost.
If there is important data on these laptops, ensure that it is being backed up regularly, by training your employees to do so. In case of laptop theft, you can install data delete software that can be remotely activated.
Outsource your disaster recovery management:
since disaster recovery is probably not your core business, you’ll have to sacrifice a lot of resources if you want to set up and implement an effective disaster recovery plan that relies 100% on your in-house staff.
Especially your IT team will have to devote a large chunk of their time to ensure your disaster recovery plan is effective. This is not just a one-off effort, but something that needs to be continuously repeated and improved.
An attractive alternative, especially for startups and small businesses, is to hire a managed service provider to take care of your company’s disaster recovery plan.
In addition to freeing up your staff members to focus on your core business, this also gives your company access to highly trained experts who are up-to-date with the latest technology and tools, which will guarantee effective recovery of your valuable data in case of disaster.